The question of how to handle defiant children is something most parents have struggled with at one point or another. Defiance in children is a common problem, especially in young children in their toddler years and in adolescents. It is a normal part of a child`s development, and can be expressed in behaviours such as talking back or disobeying parents, teachers, and other adults. Following are eight strategies to handle defiant behaviour in children before you lose your patience. Strategy #1:`Hold Your Child Accountable Children of all ages need to know the family rules for everything from helping out with chores, to completing homework, to bedtime and curfews, to acceptable behaviour toward others. The time to discuss these matters is when things are going well, not after an incident has occurred. Sit down with your kids and let them know what types of behaviours you will not tolerate in your family. List examples of unacceptable behaviours such as treating others with disrespect, being fresh or rude, name calling, refusing to do chores or homework, mistreating possessions, hitting, biting, or any other physical aggression. You cannot expect your child, regardless of age, to be compliant if he doesn`t know your expectations.`Holding your child accountable does not result in a child who is obedient 100% of the time, but it does mean that you set the limits, and you provide a consequence when your child decides to break the rules. The goal is not to prevent your child from ever breaking the rules but to teach him, preferably at a young age, that when rules are broken consequences follow. Strategy #2:`Choose Your Battles Parenting is exhausting enough when things are going well, but when one of your children is purposefully misbehaving, the difficulties are multiplied. So choose how you spend your energy wisely!`For instance, if your high schooler wants to wear pants that are too big because that`s the style, do you really need to start the day off on a negative note by hassling him over poor fashion choices` On the other hand, if he tells you that he isn`t going to school because he doesn`t feel like it`that`s just not going to fly. Strategy #3:`Act, Don`t React When you witness defiant behaviour from your child, don`t get angry and lose your temper. Instead, take a step back and calmly tell your child that you don`t approve of the behaviour and that you will handle it at a later time. This will raise a sense of fear in your child's mind because he`ll have time to think about the poor actions and the potential consequences. `Not only are you using the time to calm yourself down, but you`re also teaching your kids how to do the same. Strategy #4:`Enforce Age-Appropriate Consequences Effective consequences can largely be grouped into two categories: removals and impositions. A `removal` is taking something away from the child, such as your attention, an exciting environment, or a pleasant activity. The most well-known and widely-used removal is a time out. Other effective removals are: Grounding your child from social activities, taking away electronics for a certain period of time, immediately leaving the park, a friend's house, or a family party when a defiant behaviour occurs. `Impositions` are consequences that impose a new situation upon the child. Doing extra chores, having to run errands with mom because he abused the privilege to stay home alone by inviting friends over without permission`these are impositions.`Without question, effective strategies for consequences require a lot of time and energy to enforce. But if you don`t follow through with consequences for bad behaviour, you send the message: If you wear me down, you`ll get your way. Bad idea! Strategy #5:`Keep Your Power` When you engage in an argument with your child, you're just giving them more power over the situation. In effect, you're enforcing the child's perception that they have the power to challenge you, which can lead to even more defiant behaviour. `The next time your child tries to draw you into a power struggle over something just say, `We`ve discussed what is going to happen if you do this. I don`t want to talk about it anymore,` and leave the room. When you leave, you take all the power with you. `Know that the more you engage your child in an argument, the more control you`re giving away. Strategy #6:`No Second Chances or Bargaining Consistency is key if you don`t want to reinforce bad habits.`Once your child is old enough to understand that behaviours have consequences, don`t give him repeat chances. This just teaches him that you aren`t serious and he can get away with this behaviour a few more times because he knows you won`t take your own rules seriously. Do not bargain with your child, don`t offer ice cream or money in return for better behaviour.`This is possibly the most damaging thing a parent can do.`You are only enabling the poor behaviour and can count on much worse in the future because they`re going to see how far they can push you before you strike another bargain. Strategy # 7:`Always Build on the Positive Notice good behaviour and give attention to it. Anything you see that you want to happen more often -- let the child know you like it. Say, "You guys are doing so well playing together today! That's great!" Then go over and touch the child affectionately or give a high five. This will help make it happen more often. Positive attention to good behaviour can be a smile, a touch or praise -- or all three -- but do it right away and be specific about what it was the child did right every time. Instead of saying "stop" or "don't" when you see bad behaviour, find the "positive opposite": Figure out what you do want the child to do instead. So "Don't leave your socks on the floor" becomes "Please put your socks in the hamper." If they comply, remember to praise them! "Wow, you did what I asked! You put your socks in the hamper!" You will have to say "stop" and "don't" once in a while -- that's normal -- but you will have to say it much less if you are praising the positive opposite. Strategy #8: Set Regular Times to Talk to Your Child In a moment of downtime, when things are going well and you don't anticipate an immediate power struggle, sit down with your child and let her know that you take your job as her parent very seriously and your intentions are to keep her safe and help her grow into a responsible, productive, self-reliant adult who will be as happy and fulfilled in life as possible.`Remind her that your family has rules and values that are in place for her future, not to cause her grief while growing up.